Iowa 5th District
Sioux City, one of the oldest market towns on the Great Plains, is nestled in the loess bluffs above the Missouri River. Although still the largest city on the Plains west of Des Moines and north of Omaha, Sioux City has not grown much in the past half-century. Its original economic base has become obsolete: The waterfront, once raucous with boatmen and stockyard workers, is now quiet. Downtown stores have been replaced by shopping malls at the edge of town, where people spend a day doing a season’s shopping and then drive for hours to get home. The stockyards, which employed thousands and slaughtered millions of hogs during their peak years in the 1920s, are shuttered. But there are still many hogs in western Iowa. Instead of meeting sellers in the markets of the Sioux City stockyard, packers now contract directly with large farms and build their modern slaughterhouses nearby. Tyson Foods has facilities in Buena Vista and Crawford counties. Meanwhile, wind farming has grown. Iowa is among the top states generating electricity from wind, over objections from some farmers to the noise and the hazard to birds.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
Sioux City is the largest city in the 5th Congressional District, which covers the western part of the state from Minnesota to Missouri and borders South Dakota and Nebraska to the west. This is the state’s largest congressional district geographically, the one with the most 4-H members, and the nation’s chief hog- and pig-producing district. In recent years, outside investors moved into the district’s small towns for large-scale ethanol production. Council Bluffs is home to the mansion of General Grenville Dodge, who in 1859 lobbied Illinois lawyer Abraham Lincoln on the need for a transcontinental railroad. Lincoln got it through Congress in 1863, Dodge became its chief engineer, and Council Bluffs became its eastern terminus when it was completed in 1869. Surrounded by beef grazing territory, where federal intrusion has long been resented, Council Bluffs looks west across the Missouri River to Omaha, taking on the culturally more conservative tone of Nebraska and the conservative politics of the Omaha World-Herald, despite the presence of three Nevada-style casinos in the city. But Council Bluffs is also developing an economically hip side with Google’s decision to open a data facility there. This is by far the most Republican district in Iowa, and George W. Bush twice carried it by wide margins. In 2008, McCain won it 54%-44%.